Rotterdam: Dutch police fire warning shots as Covid riots hit Rotterdam – Times of India


Rotterdam: Dutch Police Warning shots fired after injuring several people after rioters set a police vehicle on fire and pelted stones, partly against the Covid lockdown Rotterdam on Friday.
Panic erupts after protests in port city coronavirus The ban and the government plans to restrict access to unvaccinated people in some places.
Dozens of people were arrested and a total of seven people, including police officers, were injured during a night-time stampede on one of Rotterdam’s main shopping streets.
The Netherlands went back into the first partial lockdown of winter in Western Europe last Saturday with at least three weeks of restrictions on restaurants, shops and sports.
Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Abaleb described the riots as “an orgy of violence”.
“The police have finally felt the need to draw a police weapon to defend themselves,” he told reporters.
Police said in a statement that the demonstration that began on Coolsingel Street resulted in “riots. Several places were set on fire. Fireworks were set off and police fired several warning shots.”
“There are injuries related to the firing,” he said. He did not give a number but public broadcaster NOS said two people were injured.
Dutch media said several hundred protesters raised slogans including “freedom”, then pelted stones at police and firefighters and set several electric scooters on fire.
An AFP reporter said the situation had since calmed down substantially, but smoke from a lit police car and dozens of bicycles shattered the scene.
Riot police were escorting groups of people away from the area with shields and batons. Officers on horseback and in police vans continued to patrol the streets.
An AFP correspondent said police cordoned off several scenes to search for evidence, one of which showed a human finger on the ground.
“Most of the protesters are now gone. In some places there are only a few groups,” police spokesman Jesse Brobel told AFP.
Dutch police said units from across the country had been brought to Rotterdam to “restore order”.
“Dozens of arrests have now been made, with more arrests expected. About seven people, including a police side, have been injured,” a police statement said.
Authorities in Rotterdam issued an emergency order banning gatherings of people in the area “in order to maintain public order” while its main train station was closed.
“This is a very serious situation that requires action with the highest priority,” said the emergency order by the Rotterdam municipality.
Tensions will be high ahead of planned demonstrations in Amsterdam and the southern city of Breda on Saturday. Local media say thousands are expected to attend.
Like the rest of Europe, the Netherlands has seen record lows in recent days, with more than 21,000 new infections reported on Friday.
The latest restrictions were announced on 12 November, and clashes broke out between protesters and police outside the Ministry of Justice in The Hague.
In January the Netherlands suffered its worst riots in four decades, including in Rotterdam, after a nightly COVID curfew was imposed.
But the most controversial measure is yet to come.
The Dutch government is considering excluding non-vaccinated people from bars and restaurants – the so-called 2G option – limiting entry to those who have been vaccinated or who have recovered from the disease.
However, there was significant opposition to the plan during a debate in Parliament this week.
Similar measures have already been taken in neighboring Germany, while Austria initially did but has now gone into complete lockdown.
Earlier on Friday, the Dutch government declared traditional fireworks over the New Year illegal for the second year in a row “to prevent additional burdens on care workers”, the government said.